The Chipmunk

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein


He makes a roadway of the crumbling fence,
Or on the fallen tree, - brown as a leaf
Fall stripes with russet, - gambols down the dense
Green twilight of the woods. We see not whence
He comes, nor whither (in a time so brief)
He vanishes - swift carrier of some Fay,
Some pixy steed that haunts our child-belief -
A goblin glimpse upon some wildwood way.


What harlequin mood of nature qualified
Him so with happiness? and limbed him with
Such young activity as winds, that ride
The ripples, have, dancing on every side?
As sunbeams know, that urge the sap and pith
Through hearts of trees? yet made him to delight,
Gnome-like, in darkness, - like a moonlight myth, -
Lairing in labyrinths of the under night.


Here, by a rock, beneath the moss, a hole
Leads to his home, the den wherein he sleeps;
Lulled by near noises of the laboring mole
Tunneling its mine - like some ungainly Troll -
Or by the tireless cricket there that keeps
Picking its rusty and monotonous lute;
Or slower sounds of grass that creeps and creeps,
And trees unrolling mighty root on root.


Such is the music of his sleeping hours.
Day hath another - 'tis a melody
He trips to, made by the assembled flowers,
And light and fragrance laughing 'mid the bowers,
And ripeness busy with the acorn-tree.
Such strains, perhaps, as filled with mute amaze
(The silent music of Earth's ecstasy)
The Satyr's soul, the Faun of classic days.

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